Jams, Jellies, Preserves

Hedgerow Jelly: Jennifer Sleeman

Towards the end of August or early September find a nicely overgrown hedge and pick into a bucket what you can find of blackberries, sloes, elderberries, hips, maybe a few haws and if you are lucky crabapples. If no crabapples, a couple of cookers chopped up could be added to your harvest. Put all in a pot, almost cover with water and simmer until nice and soft. Strain overnight, through a jelly bag. Next day measure juice. Add 1lb sugar to each pint of juice and boil to set. To test for setting put a small spoonful on a saucer by an open window.  When cool push with your finger and if a skin has formed it is ready.  Pour into warm sterilized jam jars and cover while hot.

You will have had a nice walk in countryside and should have pots of a lovely sharp jelly.

N,B. Blackberries and elderberries don’t have enough pectin to make a jelly on their own, so some sloes and/or tart apples are needed.


Elderflower Cordial: Julia Foden May/June

600ml water

juice of 2 lemons

150g sugar

6 heads of elderflowers


Put water and sugar in a saucepan. Heat gently until sugar is dissolved.

Add in the elderflower heads and boil for 5 minutes.

Turn off the heat, add lemon juice, and leave to infuse for 12-16 hours.

Strain out the elderflowers, pour into a jar.

Keep in the fridge.

Dilute 1 part cordial to 6 parts water and enjoy.


Rhubarb and Strawberry Marmalade: Alison Wickham

3 cups cleaned, finely sliced rhubarb

1 lemon, finely grated rind and juice

1 orange, finely grated rind and juice

1/2 cup sliced strawberries

2 cups sugar

Place three clean, dry, recyled jam jars in a 100C oven for ten minutes to sterilise them.  Boil metal caps in water for 10 minutes.

If you have a food processsor, the quickest way to get the grated rinds is to peel them lightly (avoiding white pith) and whizz them with 1 cup of the required sugar until finely chopped.

Place all of the above ingredients into a large saucepan and slowly bring to a rolling boil.  Keep the mix boiling for at least ten minutes, stirring often until the mixture is thick and clear looking.  Test for setting by placing a little on a  saucer in a cool place.  After a few minutes if you lightly push the edge of the spoonful with your finger you should see a wrinkled skin form (about 100C if you have a thermometer in the pot).  If the mixture in the pot has developed a foam on it, this can be dispersed by stirring in a 1/2 teaspoon of butter. Let jam rest for five minutes.

Meanwhile get your jars out of the oven and place on a chopping board.  Pour jam into a large jug and then pour carefully into the hot jars avoiding dropping the jam on the jar rim.  Drain screw caps and wearing rubber gloves to protect from the heat, screw on tightly.

Variations: Just before filling the jam jars stir in 1/2 cup of walnuts that have been soaked for 10 minutes in boiling water and then chopped.  This adds an interesting texture.

Or add 1/2 cup of chopped crystalised or stem ginger and the walnuts to the jam instead of strawberries.  Tastes wonderful but looks a little drab.

Raspberry Jam – Kiwi Style

Equal weights of sugar and raspberries.  Small quantities make the best jam e.g. no more than 500 gm of each ingredient.

Prepare recycled jam jars and lids as above in Rhubarb and Strawberry Marmalade.

Place raspberries into a large saucepan and bring to the boil.  Add sugar quickly at this point and stir until dissolved, mashing in the fruit with a potato masher. Let jam boil briskly for 3 minutes then turn off the heat.

Stir, and mash if needed, occasionally over the next five minutes.  Test for setting and bottle as above.

This jam sets well and looks delicious with its bright colour.  The original recipe is from Alison Holst, New Zealand’s great practical-family-cooking icon.